Maximizing health in menopausal women with disabilities.

There are nearly 30 million women with disabilities in the United States. Of these, more than 16 million are over the age of 50. Years ago, women with disabilities did not commonly live to the age of menopause, and, if they did, they reached this stage of life in a very debilitated condition. Now, women with disabilities are entering their mature years as active members of society who can look forward to productive futures. Because the health needs of women with disabilities might differ from those of other women, special attention should be focused on how physiological changes of perimenopausal and menopausal states affect this population. In addition to functional changes that might affect menopausal women with disabilities, basic health maintenance issues may be adversely affected by environmental factors. Physical barriers can influence compliance with preventive health screening that is essential in aging populations. Treatment options might need to be tailored to the individual. The disabling condition itself may progress, resulting in secondary conditions requiring creative interventions. A comprehensive evaluation and the development of a suitable management plan, which takes into account the multifactorial nature of aging as a disabled woman, are essential in delivering optimal care to this population.